Missouri's balanced budget
May 31, 2007

The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn't get worse every time Congress meets. --Will Rogers

Tax cuts and the 2008 budget
by Missouri Rep. Ed Emery
(R-126 including the counties of Barton, Dade, Jasper and Polk)

Missouri is changing the precedent that government just wants more and more. The Missouri Legislature passed a balanced budget this year and in the same legislative session voted to cut taxes for many of our senior citizens and military personnel. The tax cut on social security, House Bill 444, was a top priority for Governor Blunt and the Legislature.

House Bill 444, the Senior Tax Justice Act is on the Governor’s desk and provides tax relief to thousands of Missouri’s seniors by phasing in the state income tax exemption on Social Security benefits over six years. If signed, the legislation will also provide relief for teachers, firefighters, police officers, military personnel, and federal employees.

Missouri’s re-energized economy, not government, is giving us this opportunity to reduce the tax burden on many Missourians. Controlled government spending, elimination of a great deal of waste and fraud from our system, and the addition of nearly 50,000 new jobs have turned billion dollar shortfalls into a projected budget surplus of $300-500 million.

I wish I could say we shrunk the state budget, but I cannot. This year’s budget is our largest ever: $21.5 billion. Total funding for education rose to over $5 billion. There are increases for college scholarships, for A+ Schools, and for Parents-as-Teachers. There is an approximately 4.5% increase (over $39 million) for our state’s colleges and universities. There is an increase for foster care, and an increase of $79.4 million for nursing homes ($30 million from general revenue). Tax payer funded healthcare increases by over $147 million new dollars. One hundred fifty (150) new beds will be funded in Veterans’ homes across the state including 109 new staff for these beds. And this is just a partial list.

In the face of this huge budget, there were those on the other side of the aisle who spent hours railing that government schools cannot succeed on just five billion dollars and even more people should be provided with taxpayer-funded healthcare. For some, it seems government’s duty is to provide everything for everybody at whatever cost. Their answer is more government and more taxes resulting in fewer jobs, a slower economy, and lower state revenues. Their plan would seem to be to return to the policies that produced billion dollar deficits and declining state services.

I am not satisfied with where we are, but I am pleased with the change in direction. Missouri has a new paradigm (or is it an old paradigm): government is the servant of the people, not visa versa. We have completed another Legislative Session fighting for liberty, free enterprise, limited government, and personal character. Pray we can hold fast to the principles that have made America great and that we can make Missouri America’s standard for success.

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